(Updated at 3:45 p.m.) Arlington is preparing for what could be the most snow the county and the region has seen in more than two years.
The region is likely to see at least 4-8 inches, with snow starting to fall Sunday morning, according to Capital Weather Gang. This afternoon, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for the region.
WINTER STORM WATCH IN EFFECT FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT…
* WHAT…HEAVY SNOW POSSIBLE. POTENTIAL FOR 5 OR MORE INCHES OF SNOW.
* WHERE… THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, AND PORTIONS OF CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND, CENTRAL AND NORTHERN VIRGINIA, AND THE EASTERN PANHANDLE OF WEST VIRGINIA.
* WHEN…FROM LATE SATURDAY NIGHT THROUGH LATE SUNDAY NIGHT.
* IMPACTS…TRAVEL COULD BE VERY DIFFICULT.
MONITOR THE LATEST FORECASTS FOR UPDATES ON THIS SITUATION.
State and county agencies have already started preparing the roads for the wintery weather.
Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services tells ARLnow that they began pre-treating streets with brine — a salt and water mixture — yesterday.
That pre-treatment process is continuing today. Full deployment of the county’s snow plow teams will start early Sunday, a DES spokesperson says, with 92 drivers and 46 trucks equipped with salt spreaders and plows.
There will be staggered shifts the operations center due to COVID-19 protocols.
DES is asking residents to re-familiarize themselves with snow removal processes, which includes plowing only after snow depth hits at least two inches. In addition, they are requesting residents who park on narrow roads to put vehicles elsewhere so that plows can make their way through.
In fact, they are making a competition out of it and are asking folks to post pictures of their creative parking skills.
Prize package includes OFFICIAL Arlington County ice cream scoop and reusable straw. (County employees ineligible for prize package but should move cars off narrow streets just the same.) #ArlWX https://t.co/ZQe0rY9r6h pic.twitter.com/Jisl2SDR8a
— Arlington Department of Environmental Services (@ArlingtonDES) January 29, 2021
A number of major Arlington roads are maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, including Lee Highway, Arlington Blvd, Glebe Road, and others.
VDOT spokesperson Ellen Kamilakis tells ARLnow that residents should be seeing brine tankers out right now. The current cold and clear conditions are perfect for spraying brine.
“The goal is for it to evaporate and leave the salt residue, those white brine lines,” she says. “Today is perfect to be doing it. People are going to be seeing them everywhere.”
She cautions that they often work in pairs, a tanker and a trailing vehicle, and move slowly. The crews make a lot of U-turns, she says, so drivers should avoid getting between them.
Kamilakis says that there are about 130 trucks deployed right now covering Arlington County and the interstates that cut through the county.
With the region having not seen snowfall like what is being predicted in a while, she says that residents may “not have their snow legs yet” and have forgotten what it’s like to drive in the snow.
Kamilakis cautions folks to monitor the forecast, drive carefully and slowly, and brake earlier. If VDOT puts out the call to stay off the roads, to do so.
“If we’re asking you to stay off the roads, it’s serious enough for us to ask that,” she said.
Another thing Arlington residents should take note of: the county’s snow removal ordinance, which requires that sidewalks be shoveled within 24 hours of the end of a snow event with six inches or less of accumulation, or 36 hours for storms that drop more than six inches.
ANC and Addison Alternatives Announced — “Metro will offer free shuttle bus service and other travel alternatives during the spring closure of Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery stations on the Blue and Silver lines, the transit agency announced today. Addison Road and Arlington Cemetery will be closed from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, May 23, 2021, to allow for construction.” [WMATA]
Business Buys Ballroom Building, Before Bar by Beer Boss Brings Big Bucks — “Monument Realty has acquired the former Clarendon Ballroom as the owners of popular beer garden The Lot plan to open a temporary event venue inside the building on Arlington County’s Rosslyn-Ballston corridor. MR 3185 Wilson Retail LLC, an affiliate of the District-based commercial real estate developer, acquired the building at 3185 Wilson Blvd. Dec. 11 for about $6.7 million, according to Arlington County land records.” [Washington Business Journal]
COVID Concerns Cause County Crew Changes — “You can now add snow removal to the long list of things that have had to change because of COVID-19. ‘This year, what makes it different than many other years, is the threat of COVID and really the concern of just keeping the employees safe, keeping them distanced enough to where they can do their work but also go home safely,’ said Jeremy Hassan, the chief operating engineer for Arlington County’s Water, Sewer, and Streets Bureau.” [Fox 5]
Update at 3:30 p.m. — All Arlington Public Schools will be closed Monday, the school system just announced.
APS Alert: All APS schools and offices will be closed on Monday, January 14. Essential personnel should report to work at their scheduled time. Extracurricular activities, games, team practices, field trips, adult education classes, and programs on school grounds are canceled.
— Arlington Public Schools (@APSVirginia) January 13, 2019
Earlier: Arlington County snow removal crews have started plowing neighborhood streets as the snowiest D.C. area storm since 2016 starts to wind down.
The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services announced just before 1 p.m. that it had entered “Phase 3” of its snow response, during which crews are “working to widen passage on primary and secondary arterial” streets while “beginning to treat/plow residential streets.”
Crews across Northern Virginia worked throughout the night to keep roads drivable, though officials cautioned against unnecessary travel due to slick conditions.
Virginia State Police said troopers in its Fairfax Division, which includes Arlington, responded to 34 crashes and 52 disabled vehicles since midnight. Statewide, more than 230 crashes were handled by VSP during that timeframe.
“Drivers be advised — looks can be and are deceiving!” state police said. “Highways may appear to be clear, but slick and icy conditions still exist.”
“On the second day of winter weather across northern Virginia, drivers are asked to continue to avoid unnecessary travel for crews to safely clear accumulating snow,” VDOT urged.
In Arlington, all Dept. of Parks and Recreation classes and activities in county and school facilities were canceled today. All county fields and community centers were closed and all other activities at public schools were canceled. Arlington Transit buses, meanwhile, are operating on a limited schedule.
As of 2 p.m., Arlington Public Schools had not yet announced its status for Monday. Another 2-3 inches could fall between 1 p.m. today and just after midnight, according to the National Weather Service, and a Winter Storm Warning remains in effect.
Despite the hazards, the snow produced picturesque scenes around Arlington. More snowy scenes from around town, via social media:
Police Warn of Jury Duty Scam — The Arlington County Police Department is again warning about a jury duty telephone scam targeting Arlington residents. The fraud involves a caller claiming to be a law enforcement officer and claiming that the call recipient failed to appear for jury duty. The scammer then demands the payment of a fine over the phone. [Arlington County]
Plow Plows Into Bus — Updated at 2 p.m. — One lane of Lee Highway was blocked for a period of time during last night’s evening rush hour after a minor accident involving an VDOT snow plow and an ART bus. [Twitter]
Vihstadt Speaks Out Against Gondola — County Board member John Vihstadt is not a fan of the potential gondola from Rosslyn to Georgetown. “Now is not the time to spend upwards of $90 million on a Disney-like gondola to Georgetown while current modes of public transit need significant new investment,” Vihstadt said earlier this week. [InsideNova]
Crystal House Renovated — Crystal House is a big apartment complex in Crystal City that has been around for a long time. Chances are, someone you know has lived there at one point or another. The 825-unit complex recently completed the first phase of a major renovation project and is showing it off via video and press release. [PR Newswire, YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
The county announced today that it will start clearing 10 miles of trails at the same time as priority arterial roads. The Department of Parks and Recreation has cleared trails around the county before, but this will be the first time the highly-used trails will be plowed during and immediately after snowstorms.
The trails that will be cleared are:
- 5.2 miles of the Custis Trail, from the W&OD Trail to N. Lynn Street
- 2.25 miles of the Four Mile Run Trail from Reagan National Airport to Shirlington Road
- 1.25 miles of the Bluemont Junction Trail from Fairfax Drive in Ballston to the W&OD Trail
- and 0.4 miles of the Route 110 trail from the Iwo Jima Memorial to Arlington National Cemetery
The county does not own two of the most highly-used trails in Arlington — the W&OD Trail and the Mount Vernon Trail. The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority owns the W&OD and the National Park Service owns the Mount Vernon Trail. For updates during snow storms on the status of those and other trails around the county, cyclists and walkers should refer to the BikeArlington forums, the county says.
The county’s Dept. of Environmental Services is also starting a pilot program this winter to clear the county’s protected bike lanes of snow using specialized equipment. As more protected bike lanes come to the county — such lanes are in the design phase for S. Eads Street in Crystal City — DES is requesting more funding for the program for future winters.
According to WashCycle, a protected bike lane could be also coming to Wilson Blvd between Rosslyn and Courthouse. The bike advocacy blog says the cycle track is “in design and evaluation right now.”
Residents can monitor the progress of snow removal from roadways around the county by visiting Arlington’s snow and ice website, which has links to view the 83 traffic cameras around the county, and posts updates during snow removal processes.
DES received a $300,000 budget boost from the County Board this past spring, earmarked to allow trail plowing, according to the Washington Post. Cyclists represent about 1 percent of those who commute to or from work in Arlington County, survey data shows.
Arlington County has 92 drivers and 46 trucks among its snow-clearing resources. The drivers received computer-based simulator training to prepare for this winter season and potential safety hazards, the county said in a press release.
This winter, weather forecasters are predicting colder temperatures and more snow than normal.
(Updated at 10:00 a.m.) Shortly after being caught on video driving the wrong way down Military Road — a story first reported on ARLnow.com — an Arlington County snow plow driver ran a stop sign and caused a multi-vehicle accident, according to police.
The accident happened at 9:18 a.m. on Monday. The 51-year-old plow driver was heading southbound on S. Monroe Street when he ran a stop sign at 18th Street S. and struck an eastbound Toyota Highlander on the driver’s side rear panel, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The Highlander then struck two parked cars.
“There were no reported injuries as a result of the accident,” Sternbeck told ARLnow.com. The driver was cited by officers for disregarding a stop sign.
The accident happened less than two hours after local filmmaker Jason Berry said he was nearly run off the road by the plow, which was driving the wrong way down hilly, twisting Military Road. At Tuesday’s Arlington County Board meeting, Board Chair Jay Fisette encouraged County Manager Barbara Donnellan to take disciplinary action.
“I think all of us saw that video and thought, ‘oh my God,” Fisette said. “That was horrible. It’s inconceivable to me that there’s a justification for driving a [snow plow] down the wrong side of the road. It was quite amazing to watch the video. We are just fortunate that nothing terrible… came of that particular driving experience.”
Donnellan reported that the driver was working a midnight-to-noon shift and called the incident “unfortunate,” “dangerous” and a “near miss situation.”
“This is completely unacceptable behavior for snow plowing. it is a violation of our Arlington county driver policy and training,” Donnellan said. “As soon as the county learned of the unacceptable behavior we identified the responsible driver and immediately removed him from duty.”
“The investigation is underway,” Donnellan continued. “We’re taking appropriate action with this employee. A full range of disciplinary actions is always on the table for serious safety violations. Our safety policy strives for zero incidents.”
Donnellan noted that the county also received calls thanking snow removal crews for their tireless work during this snowy winter.
“It’s easy to focus on one driver, on one day, but we also have many, many drivers who are safe, courteous and do great work too,” Donnellan said. “My many thanks goes out to staff who works incredibly hard during these weather events to keep our community safe and to keep our streets, trails and sidewalks clear.”
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) An Arlington County snow plow was spotted driving the wrong way on Military Road today, and part of the incident was caught on video.
Jason Berry, a local filmmaker and entrepreneur, says he encountered the snow plow head on while driving down Military Road in the Donaldson Run neighborhood around 7:30 a.m.
“I came over a hill and headed right towards me was this snow plow in my lane,” Berry told ARLnow.com via email. “The driver did not move or slow down, I was forced out of my lane into the deeper snow in between lanes. I temporarily lost control of my car and managed to use the e-brake to slide to a stop.”
“I then was facing the other direction in the other lane so I proceeded to catch back up to the plow and that is where the video starts,” Berry continued. “The plow is seen driving in the wrong lane THROUGH an intersection (of Military and Marcey Road), which is at the crest of a blind hill.”
Berry, 44, said he has “never seen such a brazen act of indifference” on the part of a snow plow driver while living in Arlington and, previously, in snowy Rochester, N.Y.
Arlington County says the plow driver was not following proper procedures.
“This is completely unacceptable behavior for snow plowing and it was in violation of Arlington County’s plow driver practices and training,” Dave Hundelt, a manager at Arlington’s Water, Sewer and Streets Bureau, told ARLnow.com via email just after 12:30 p.m.
“As soon as the County learned of the unacceptable behavior, we identified the driver and removed him from duty,” Hundelt said. “We will be taking appropriate action with this employee. Safety is a priority for the County, and we encourage any driver issues or concerns to be reported to the police.”
In a separate incident, another snow plow — a VDOT contractor, according to a department spokeswoman — became disabled after it ran up on the center divider on Route 50 near Glebe Road this morning. No word yet on how that happened.
Video (top) courtesy Jason Berry. Photo (bottom) courtesy @ATrombs.
(Updated at 10:15 a.m.) Arlington has largely wrapped up its snowplowing effort following Monday’s snowstorm.
As of last night residential roads were “essentially plowed,” with the exception of some streets that were “packed down ice after the cold temperatures,” according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman Robyn Mincher.
“Driving conditions are stable, and residents should drive with care,” Mincher said. “Several snowplows are out working this morning on reported requests or any issues with schools. Plows have ceased active street-to-street plowing, and we are applying salt or sand in areas with significant need such as hills.”
County crews — more than 40 trucks — were in “full snow mode,” plowing and treating Arlington’s nearly 1,000 lane miles of roadway, from midnight Sunday to 10:00 p.m. Tuesday night, according to Mincher.
A high temperature in the mid-40s and plenty of sunshine today is expected to continue to melt the snow, slush and ice that remains on local streets.
Update at 4:00 p.m. — The Department of Environmental Services says all of its trucks are back out this afternoon to spread salt and make sure snow and ice are melting on residential streets. A small team will remain on standby overnight to address any possible areas that may re-freeze.
Earlier — All of the weather advisories for Arlington County have been cancelled and the snow has stopped falling, but the storm’s effects still linger around the county.
VDOT reports having more than 1,900 trucks clearing state roads throughout Northern Virginia. Arlington County sent out crews on its streets beginning at 4:00 a.m. to treat primary and secondary roads. Traffic cameras show most major roads are clear and traffic is largely moving smoothly throughout the county as of 2:00 p.m. Drivers are encouraged to exercise extra caution through tomorrow because temperatures will drop and slush on the roads could freeze.
The Arlington County government remained open but the following services have been affected:
- Trash/Recycling/Brush collection crews are performing collection services. If they are unable to get to certain streets because of the street conditions, they will go back and complete collection tomorrow.
- Vacuum leaf collection has been canceled for today. Collection will resume in zone three tomorrow.
- Bag leaf collection crews are out collecting leaves today. If crews are unable to get to certain streets because of the conditions, they will also go back and complete the collections tomorrow.
- Mulch deliveries for today have been rescheduled for tomorrow. Customers have been notified.
ART buses had been operating on a limited schedule earlier today and they returned to normal by late morning.
According to the Arlington County Police Department, Public Service Aides still will enforce parking regulations. Parking enforcement is in place every day the county government is open for business. However, Public Service Aides only will be used for parking enforcement duties today when they are not busy assisting police with necessary functions related to winter weather.
Although officers and emergency responders are out in full force to assist with emergencies, residents are asked to remain off the roads for safety reasons.
“Residents are encouraged to stay off the roads today and minimize their traveling if possible,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If they need to go out then they are encouraged to use public transportation in an attempt to minimize accidents, road congestion and so that county staff and road crews can perform their jobs as safely as possible.”
Arlington Public Schools closed today and so far no decision has been made about Wednesday. From APS:
“APS will continue to monitor the road conditions in collaboration with Arlington County and our regional partners throughout the remainder of the day, tonight and early tomorrow morning. If APS opens on time on Wed, Dec. 11, we will go forward with the previously-announced school calendar, including the scheduled countywide elementary early release. If schools have a two-hour delayed opening tomorrow, the elementary early release will be cancelled and school will end at the normal dismissal time, in accordance with our normal procedures.”
Forecasters have been predicting some sort of precipitation on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether it will be mainly snow or rain. As is often the case in our area, weather models are changing by the hour. Don’t get your hopes up for a repeat of the Presidents Day Blizzard of 2003 — but do plan on the chance of the season’s most significant snowfall.
In advance of the possible storm, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services has issued a Phase 1 Alert, meaning crews will pre-treat roads with salt or brine as necessary. They’re also preparing snow removal equipment and personnel for the weekend.
Dominion Virginia Power also reports making preparations. Trucks are being stocked and fueled, and crews are ready to respond to outages. Customers can call 1-866-DOM-HELP to report outages and downed lines.